16 Aug 2011
In the US events known as “Shred-A-Thon” are taking place up and down the nation. The concept is simple; take your personal, sensitive or confidential documentation to a central point and join others in a mass shred! There is something cathartic and social about the programme in a land where identity theft has a much greater profile than here in Europe.
We can’t lay claim to the idea but we what about this for a twist! In a recent article (see Rexel News: How Safe is your Business?) we discussed the size of the identity theft issue here in Europe and commented that the starting point for effective action is awareness amongst all staff, not just senior management. Why not try a Shred-A-Thon?
What is a Shred-A-Thon; at its simplest it is an awareness day (or period) linked to positive group action. Use your internal communication channels to raise awareness of corporate fraud and identity theft issues; intranet, email, posters by the coffee machine. Then set aside a lunchtime, put on some catering and invite staff to bring both company confidential and personal documents to a central location (the staff restaurant, conference room, break out area) for a public shredding.
The benefits; you will ensure that one batch of sensitive material is properly destroyed. You will raise the awareness of identity theft within your organisation and start a new behaviour towards the destruction of documents. You can even use it to launch a comprehensive review and proactive strategies.
2 Aug 2011
In the last of our features on the “Top 14 Financial Frauds of All Time” we turn our attention to “The ZZZZ Best Cleaners” (1986)
Barry Minkow became the new darling of Wall Street when he floated his cleaning company on the US stock market. Shares in ZZZZ Best experienced a meteoric rise creating a company with a market capitalisation of $200 million. Unfortunately, ZZZZ Best, originally funded through a series of credit-card thefts didn't have any contracts and very few assets. It was in short an elaborate hoax. Once discovered the stock dropped to zero, investors lost their money and Minkow lost his liberty. Lest you mock; Minkow’s time at the top earned him a guest spot on the Oprah Whinfrey show, the ultimate in American endorsements.
How many times have you let your credit / debit cards out of your sight in a restaurant or shop? What do you do with the paper receipts, carbons and credit card statements?
26 Jul 2011
The trend towards recycling whether residential or in business has potentially given rise to an increase in identity theft. Whether it is the curb-side recycling bins outside your home, or specific re-cycling areas within / outside business premises, in town centres or other public places, the drive to sort the rubbish and place it in categorised containers means that the job of the identity thief has just got easy. Without realising what we are doing we are collecting together all the "good stuff" and it is no longer mixed-in with the soiled rubbish.
How do you dispose of the following: -
• Travel records
• Credit card statements
• Pre-approved credit offers
• Tax information
• Pay stubs
• Bank & Financial statements
• Personal contact, Employee, customer, supplier details
• Strategic planning information
Looking after the environment is a good thing, however sometimes well intentioned actions have un-intended consequences. Using a shredder prior to disposal is your key weapon against identity theft and the resulting pieces are easy to mulch!
Image: Phiseksit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
15 Jun 2011
For many buying a paper shredder can be a confusing business. There is bin size, number of papers a machine can shred in a single go and then there is the security level. The first two are really about convenience and the number of shared users but shredder security can be a really key issue.
Identity theft is on the radar of the world’s legislators; US legislation obliges anyone employing one person or more to look after sensitive information. Failure could incur fines and leave the individual or company open to being sued. In Europe the relevant EU Directive dates back to 1995 and mandates a framework of protection for personal information. In the UK, failure to treat sensitive data correctly can result in a fine up to £500,000 and if operating in sensitive sectors there are more stringent penalties.
Paper shredders are given a security grading based on the type of cut used in destroying a document. The grading starts at S2, a ribbon cut for general day to day shredding of non sensitive documents. S3 machines give a confetti cut suitable for personal / strategic information. S4 machines provide a micro cut for highly confidential information such as financial data, personnel records etc. Finally S5 shredders deliver a super micro cut providing a security level for top secret or highly confidential information, e.g. government or military data.
Deploying shredders in key locations around your business is an effective destruction strategy. Rexel offers a comprehensive range of paper shredders from S2 to S5 security levels.
17 May 2011
The old Bob Marley favourite brings another key insight to mind. The biggest hate across a range of office / stationary products is that awful moment when they jam. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a pouch jamming in a lamination machine, a staple in a paper stapler or that dreaded moment when the paper shredder jams; that annoying and totally frustrating moment when the machine stops with a sheath of half-shredded paper stuck in its mouth and no amount of tugging or pulling will free it.
You may argue that this is somewhat obvious and we’d have to agree. However until the issue was recognised and the engineers assigned the task of sorting out the problem jamming happened on a regular basis. Fortunately the solutions can be very simple; a range of paper shredders with a simple stop / go indicator that won’t allow more paper to be pushed into its throat than it is capable of destroying in one go. The stapler range that has its very own staples designed so that the machine will work beautifully every time!
The Rexel Mercury range of paper shredders features patented anti jam technology and the Rexel range of Optima Staplers has its own range of staples guaranteed to deliver performance.
10 May 2011
We recently came across a fascinating blog entitled “Top 14 Financial Frauds of All Time”. As the title suggests the blog features 14 audacious frauds from history. Written in a witty manner the piece is highly amusing but underneath the light hearted stories lays a warning. At least 4 of the Top 14 feature identity theft as part of the scam.
The first scam that caught our attention was The Diamond Necklace Hoax of 1785. The story features a cleric in love with someone he believed to be Queen Marie Antoinette. Unfortunately his mistress was not the queen but a look a like who duped the cleric into purchasing a beautiful necklace using the queen’s credit line as a gift. The story does not have a happy ending; the ensuing scandal was a trigger for the French revolution.
This is an extreme case of identity theft but the statistics show this is a crime on the rise at a personal and a business level. One of the simple steps anyone can take is to destroy letters or documents containing personal or sensitive information.
Rexel has a full range of paper shredders that are ideal for the home or business.
Top 14 Financial Frauds of All Time - http://www.bnet.com/photos/top-14-financial-frauds-of-all-time/6195447
9 May 2011
2011 has been labelled by at least one commentator as the year of the breach! There seems to have been a constant stream of hacks, breaches and threats. So far this year major companies such as RSA, PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and Amazon have all been the target of hackers. Most recently Sony announced that its consumer cloud service has been hacked and as a result as many as 77 million users may have become potential identity theft victims with vulnerable data including credit card information.
Amidst all these hi-tech assaults it is easy to lose sight of the basics. Without thinking many people become more vulnerable to fraud, whether at home or work, by the simple act of throwing away paper containing sensitive information; name, address, sensitive company information and banking details. Whilst on a British Airways flight recently I noted a statistic in the Business Life magazine; 10% of British bank customers keep their PIN in their wallet with their cash / credit cards. Whilst there is much for companies to do to ensure the safety of all our data, we can each take mitigating action to ensure we don’t fall victim to identity theft from the old fashioned methods!
Shredding won’t solve all the identity theft issues but it certainly helps and Rexel has a complete range of paper shredders to choose from!